A friend and former colleague recently asked whether I ever regret my decision to leave my former job, become a coach, and move to Spain. I told her that I have not even once regretted it.
But deciding to take the leap wasn’t easy. In fact, I hired a coach specifically to help me make that decision because I had so much uncertainty around it. My coach taught me fail-proof tools that helped me make the decision and not look back.
Now that I’m a coach, I use those tools every day to help others make big decisions and it’s one of my favorite parts of coaching because cultivating the ability to make good decisions for yourself is one of the most empowering skills you can learn. Here are some tools that you can use in your own life to make decisions that you won’t regret.
Consider Your Reasons
When making decisions, the conventional wisdom asks us to weigh the pros and cons. But the pros and cons don’t necessarily merit equal attention or weight.
A far better way to make decisions is to consider and write down your underlying reasons for wanting to choose one thing over another. Then ask yourself: Do I like these reasons?
When I wrote down my underlying reasons for wanting to become a coach or stay where I was, I could clearly see a pattern.
My underlying reasons for making the move were based on what I wanted:
- I love helping people become their best selves and finding fulfilment in their careers and lives.
- Coaching lights me up, energizes me, and comes naturally to me.
- I really want to try this.
My underlying reasons for wanting to stay put were based on fear:
- I might not make it.
- It might be really hard.
- It would require me to get really uncomfortable.
When I considered which set of reasons I liked better, the answer was clear: I liked my reasons for wanting to take the leap. I did not want to let fear drive my decisions anymore. I wanted to choose out of love instead.
Check In With Your Gut
As much as we love to analyze decisions with our minds, sometimes we just know what is right for us in our bodies.
For example, if thinking about choosing Option A over Option B gives you a sinking feeling in your gut, that’s something that warrants your attention.
If you have a gut feeling about a decision you’re trying to make, include that on your list of reasons. That’s a tremendously compelling reason to consider.
The only thing that will lead you astray from your gut is fear, which is generated by thoughts in your mind. Thoughts like:
- “I really want to enroll in this course but I’m afraid it’s just too expensive right now.”
- “I really want to write a book but I’m afraid I just can’t find the time right now.”
- “I really want to try this new program but there are just so many uncertainties right now.”
Sometimes making a leap requires listening to the part of you that knows that everything will be okay and that you will make it work, if you can find the courage to move past the fear that is trying to keep you safe and playing small.
As much as people like to take their time to make decisions, time usually doesn’t help.
We like to think that if we have more time, we’ll eventually feel better or become more certain about making a decision, but we usually end up just finding more pros and cons and get dragged down by the uncertainty.
To avoid this, the best thing to do is just decide. Consider your reasons, check in with your gut, recognize your fears for what they are, and then make a decision in your mind and commit to it for 48 hours. Tell yourself “This is it. This is what we’re doing. The other option that I was considering is no longer available. It’s completely off the table.”
Then notice how you feel over those two days. Do you feel excited? Do you feel giddy, even if you think you might be a little crazy? If you do, you’re on the right track. If you’re deciding to do something you’ve never done or never thought you could do, it’s going to feel completely foreign and maybe even terrifying. That doesn’t mean it’s not a sound decision. It just means you’re stretching yourself and your brain is reacting to something new.
If, on the other hand, you feel disappointed, let down, sad, or deflated, you know you’ve gone astray. Go back, try on the other decision for 48 hours, and see how you feel.
By deciding and moving forward, you’ll be gathering new information as you go. You’ll be learning instead of staying stuck.
Don’t Look Back
Once you make your decision, commit to it 100%. Go all in knowing that it’s the right decision and that you will make it the right decision. Keep your focus on the present and the future.
There will be obstacles no matter which path you choose. Your job is to overcome them and you can only do that when you’re looking ahead, rather than back.
If you like your reasons for your decisions and follow your gut, you won’t even want to look back anyway.
Go forth, grow, and bloom.